Newest city council members discuss Blaine

Published on Wed, Jan 11, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Blaine city clerk Sheri Sanchez, center, swears in Ken Oplinger, top, at the January 9 Blaine City Council meeting. Oplinger and Clark Cotner, bottom, are the newest city council members after running unopposed for positions left vacant by John Liebert and Alan Black, respectively. Photo by Jeremy Schwartz

The new year brought many changes to countywide government, but the shuffling of elected officials was not limited to the Whatcom County Courthouse.

Blaine City Council has two new city council members in former Blaine planning commission chair Ken Oplinger and Blaine resident Clark Cotner, who replaced John Liebert and Alan Black, respectively. The Northern Light asked the two men some questions about their new roles as city council members.

The Northern Light: How did you come to live in Blaine?

Clark Cotner: I was employed as a senior executive for an international company based in Vancouver, B.C.

Ken Oplinger: I moved to Blaine in 2003 when I took the job as the President/CEO of the Bellingham/Whatcom County Chamber of Commerce and Industry. My wife Diana and I felt that Blaine was a perfect place to make our home for a number of reasons. First, it’s halfway between my office in Bellingham and her parents’ home in Richmond. Second, the city had affordable housing and a great school system. Third, and most importantly, we looked across the bay at White Rock and felt that Blaine could someday see the success that our neighboring community has had, and we wanted to be a part of it.

TNL: Why did you choose to run for Blaine City Council?

Cotner: I am very interested in the long-term well-being of the community that I have decided to live the rest of my years in.

Oplinger: I think Blaine is now at an important crossroads. As the U.S. comes out of this economic recession, I believe Blaine is perfectly situated to benefit from Canadian investment and regional economic strength. I wanted to be part of the council because I think there will be some very important decisions this community will be asked to make in the near future, decisions that will dictate whether we are able to ride the wave of economic benefit or have that wave crash on us.

TNL: Are there any recent city council decisions you would have dealt with differently? If so, which one(s) and how?

Cotner: Not particularly.

Oplinger: I think the lack of challengers in this election demonstrates the general approval the citizens of Blaine have with their elected leaders. I am not aware of any recent council decisions with which I am at odds.

TNL: What do you hope to accomplish while on city council?

Cotner: I hope to be active in the economic development of Blaine.

Oplinger: I want to see family-wage job growth in Blaine and new residents moving to new housing in east Blaine. I want to see the Blaine Harbor master plan realized, and have new businesses and visitor opportunities in that area. I want to see Blaine’s downtown provide a number of retail and restaurant opportunities, mimicking the sorts of things we see in White Rock. But mostly, I want to see Blaine remain the community Diana and I have come to love, and one that provides my daughter Rachel the opportunity to remain and make her
home if she chooses.

TNL: What’s your favorite thing about Blaine?

Cotner: The casual lifestyle, the people, the ocean and the golf courses. Two of my most favorites leisure activities are golf and fishing – it just does not get any better than Blaine.

Oplinger: Paso del Norte. Growing up in Arizona, I was afraid I wouldn’t have access to decent Mexican food in the Pacific Northwest. Who knew I’d have the best Mexican food in the region right here in town?